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Unfortunately it is a false assumption that parents can trust the internet as being suitable for their children simply after installing a filter programme or using children's search engines. Exactly for this reason the legal and media authorities have been trying to find solutions for existing problems concerning media safety around children, but they are yet to find convincing results. The problems and threats that arise while kids surf, still remain.
Unlike grown-ups, who have a concrete idea of what they're looking for, kids surf the internet without a clear goal. They do it out of curiosity, for fun or in order to search information for school projects. While doing that they might easily come across sites that aren't suitable for them at all, that are hard to understand or deal with or that unsettle or scare them.
Even through children's search engines it is possible to end up on problematic sites with just a few clicks. They could in the worst cases contain porn, violence or extremist propaganda, or e.g. bulimic or even suicidal forums.
Parents need to be aware that the internet is a parallel universe - with all its downsides. Just like in the real world there are places that kids should be kept away from.
With the help of the internet it's very easy to stay in contact with friends, communicate and meet new people. Exactly that is what interests many children, and that's why they are very keen on social networking.
What are Marie's hobbies? Are there new photos from Robin? Does someone have the same problems as me?
Children's gullibility easily makes them trust others with their personal information, which causes a great risk of becoming the victim of criminals.
For people with bad purposes it's easy to get in contact with children through the net with the help of a false identity. They can meet kids on forums and sites directed at them, and use harmless sounding usernames (like "Blinky" or "Spongebob98"). For kids it's hard to realize there could be anyone behind the name, and in the worst case they could meet in real life.
School yard bullying was last season.
Taking advantage of classmates' weaknesses has now taken new forms and reached completely new proportions.
Social networks and chat forums add to the youth's means of communication, and it's easy to hide behind a user name and write carefree comments. Insults are not uncommon, and even rumours and lies are being spread. The victims hardly stand a chance to straighten their reputation or gain control of the situation. Children feel embarrassed to talk about the situation to their parents, so they stay alone with their shame.